Big 12 Media Days: Gundy addresses media, talks receivers, Penn State and defense
BY JIMMIE TRAMEL World Sports Writer
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
7/24/12 at 1:01 PM
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DALLAS -- Mike Gundy took the stage Tuesday at the Big 12 football media days for a question-and-answer session with print reporters.
Among the topics:
Who’s the new go-to guy?
Justin Blackmon was a two-time Biletnikoff Award winner and was picked in the first round of the NFL draft by the Jackson Jaguars. Gundy was asked if he has identified any current OSU receiver who could be the next big-play wideout.
“I’m not sure I’m ready to commit to one of these guys being a first-round draft pick. Those are few and far between,” Gundy said.
Instead of name-dropping potential replacements, Gundy chose to continue answering the question in a unique way. OSU was in a similar position when faced with the prospect of replacing former running back Kendall Hunter, who is now in the NFL.
Gundy wanted two replacements -- Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith -- to give the Cowboys what Hunter used to give to the Cowboys. So far, so good.
Now Gundy wants receivers (plural) to combine to give OSU what Blackmon used to give to the Cowboys. The committee thing makes sense at running back. But a committee likely doesn’t scare defensive backs. OSU needs a receiver to develop who can frighten corners.
Will any Nittany Lions become Cowboys?
Penn State’s players and incoming recruits have been given the green light to transfer to any other school in the country and be immediately eligible.
Gundy wasn’t asked specifically if he will pursue any Penn State transplants. But that was sort of implied when a mention of the Penn State situation was followed by a question about his overall philosophy on bringing in transfers.
“We have not had a lot of success with players that have transferred,” Gundy said. “We’ve taken some. But overall the majority of our success with our players have come from guys that have come in and been developed in our program.”
Referencing the Penn State ordeal, Gundy called it a unique situation. So....
“Without getting together as a staff right now, my comment would be that I think that we have to take a look at everything that’s going on,” he said.
“It is a long ways over there. It’s not like they’re a four-hour car drive from where we are. I’m going to guess most of those players are from somewhere in that part of the country. And so (pursuing Penn State players who want to leave is) not a priority for us right now. But if there were some interest out there, I would think just like any other business or any other football team, you would look at it.”
Here’s something else that wasn’t brought up during the press conference: OSU apparently is among many schools interested in a Penn State lineman from Texas. Turn back the clock and OSU was able to harvest talent from SMU after that school was handed the death penalty in the 1980s.
Who’s going to coordinator OSU’s highly successful special teams?
Gundy said he hadn’t designated anybody to be in charge of special teams yet. He said he’ll do it when preseason camp starts.
“And I have a pretty good idea -- or we have a pretty good idea -- of what we want to do. We just haven’t finalized it yet.”
Gundy wants to have his ducks in a row before he makes public what his plan is for special teams. “We don’t want to say one thing and change into another,” he said.
Observation: Keeping things mum is a good idea if you still have some kinks to iron out or if you need to make sure everybody is on board with the plan. This isn’t Gundy avoiding a question. This is Gundy being mature enough to hit the pause button so he can be more specific at a later date.
Weak point no longer?
Because OSU’s offense has been so productive, a statistically poor (but turnover-conscious) defense has suffered in comparison. Now defense will be relied upon to help the Cowboys during a season in which they will have a freshman starter at quarterback.
“I enjoyed watching our defense (in the spring) with their athleticism and speed,” Gundy said. “And we were able to put players in there that are young. And we didn’t have as much drop-off as we would have had three, four years ago.”
Gundy said he feels better about his defense now than he has since he has been a head coach. Considering the talent at corner, an upgraded defensive line and depth at linebacker, there’s no reason to believe he is just talking a good game.
Oklahoma State running back Joseph Randle takes questions on Monday. MATT STRASEN/AP